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· February 24, 2012

Ohio becomes the latest front in the war on women

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine joined the chorus of conservative politicians who campaigned on economic issues but have shifted their focus to limiting health care options for women.

DeWine Thursday announced that he is joining AGs from six other states in filing a lawsuit that challenges President Obama’s requirement for birth control coverage for employees – including those of Catholic institutions. The lawsuit contends the requirement violates the religious liberty of Catholic hospitals and other church-affiliated entities. The Catholic Health Association and the Association of Jesuit Universities and Colleges support the president’s decision – which requires insurance companies – not Catholic Institutions – to provide the coverage.

DeWine’s election-year decision comes just days after he abandoned his support for GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney in favor of the more socially conservative Rich Santorum, who has spoken out against contraception, urged women who become pregnant from a rape to look at that pregnancy as a “gift from God,” and said he opposes prenatal testing during pregnancy but positive tests result in too many abortions.

The new emphasis on limiting women’s health care options has energized women and inspired late-night comedy writers, particularly after a Congressional panel convened a hearing on reproductive rights but failed to invite any women to join.

The absence of women caught the attention of Saturday Night Live’s, “Oh Really? with Seth and Amy.’’ Amy mocked the all-male panel saying, “that would be like not inviting  any men to a congressional committee debating the Maxim Top 100.’’

In Ohio, legislation to restrict abortions and limit birth control options continues to among lawmakers’ top priorities.

Just last week, the chair of the House Health and Aging Committee added a provision to a bill that bans physician assistants from inserting or removing and IUD, considered a common and safe method of  birth control. Committee chair Rep. Lynn Wachtmann told The Plain Dealer he included the provision because of his belief that a fertilized egg is a human life.  IUDs prevent pregnancies by not allowing fertilized eggs to implant in the uterus.

Next week, Wachtmann’s committee is scheduled to take up a bill to defund Planned Parenthood.

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